It’s cold and foggy here in Reading this morning. The damp low air brings a sense of quiet and mystery, as if there’s something waiting for us just out of sight. We feel strangely positive about things today—the Covid numbers are starting to drop, the ugly and entitled have had a kicking as their hubris is revealed and the world sees them for the monsters they truly are. The fog has lifted there, at least.
It’s a nice peaceful moment to settle in with a cup of tea and put the finishing polish on this week’s Cut. Enjoy with us a wild story about how an architect became a bargaining chip in the acquisition of his own archive, the crazy world of fake bourbon and how Mad Max Fury Road channels Shakespeare.
Now is the time. Here is the place. This is The Cut.
First up, an amazing story of hope and music in the harshest environment of all. Redemption is possible even when you’re facing the ultimate punishment. Everyone involved in this story seems able to see past the awful crimes of the past to a future with possibilities beyond the cruelest answer.
One from the Ninth Art Desk. This story on cartoonist Zerocalcere is a great example of how, outside the English-speaking world, comics easily transcend the normal bounds of what’s deemed sellable and popular. Who’d have thought a strip about a guy haunted by his conscience, anthropomorphised into an armadillo, would get a Netflix adaption?
Late in his career, Charles Dickens went on a tour of America. Downcast and lacking in inspiration, it took the simplest of exercises to bring him back up to speed. We at The Cut can recommend a little gentle exercise to get the idea engines steaming. As author Mike Sowden mentions:
…I reckon the walking bit is important, because it’ll excite your body and get your blood pumping around, and since your mind is part of your body it’ll also get worked up, yet have nothing to feed on except itself. Allow it to get to work on things that have been quietly bugging you for ages. Let interesting insights bubble up, as they always seem to do when you’re doing nothing much at all.Mike Sowden
Let it all happen, and don’t let anything else get in the way.
The most mind-boggling bit of the week is the story of what happened to architect Luis Barragán after he died. A tale of art, death and magical realism, it’s a long read but totally worth it. Hey, it’s cold and damp out there. Save the walk for later.
Common knowledge states that monosodium glutamate should be avoided. It’s supposed to be bad for us in ways we’re somehow never quite able to articulate, and many foods on sale proudly advertise as ‘MSG Free’. The truth is very different to the accepted narrative and the reason we think otherwise may be nothing more than a racist prank.
People really do seem to take a lot at face value these days. There’s almost no examination of a given text, allowing folk to become quickly offended at material which is obviously satire. We present The Trevor Bastard Extended Universe, and how it got kicked off Twitter.
Another one from the Ninth Art Desk (yes, we’re scattering those stories around this week to stop you just skipping a chunk of content). Lee Stringer is a skilful and intelligent cartoonist who’s worked for British publications over many years. He knows his stuff and has little time for the attempt to stoke a new front in the culture wars over, of all things, the renaming of one of The Bash Street Kids…
Before The Situation, we took a road trip to Northumberland and stayed in a lovely little village called Allendale. Four nice pubs, a neat little cafe and arts hub, a properly vintage Co-op and of course The Museum Of Classic Sci-Fi. Run on a shoestring by superfan Neil Cole, we are delighted to report it has survived the challenges of the past couple of years and the brilliantly named Allendalek waits to greet you. If you’re in the area, please drop in. It’s a bizarre and brilliant treat.
We like a wee tipple on occasion, and Editor Rob is partial to a good bourbon. However, the collector’s market for rare bottles is a little outside the range of our petty cash tin, and with stories of expensive fakes abounding, we’ll stick to good old Woodford Reserve, thanks. At least you know what you’re paying for…
Film criticism can often uncomfortably jam a writer’s opinion or pet theory onto the framework of a movie whether it fits of not. Subtext can be important, but there are times when it’s clear a movie is about what it seems to be about and nothing more. However, we enjoyed this bonkers treatise on the villain of Fury Road, and have to admit we see what author Adam Roberts means when he asks: Is Immortan Joe the Mad Max version of King Lear?
This week’s short story is ‘What Remained’ by Morgan Omotoye. We found it skewed and unsettling, with a central concept close to an experience we had with an old laptop—although Morgan takes the notion to a very odd place indeed.
Say goodbye to Ronnie Spector, who’s hit the long road and left us all behind. One of the defining voices of rock, her magic touched a huge range of musicians, from the Ramones to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and of course, Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band. Our Exit Music features a collaboration between Ronnie and the E Streeters, on hiatus while Bruce worked through a legal battle which shuttered his operations for a few years. Say Goodbye To Hollywood was written by Billy Joel as a tribute to Ronnie and her music. Once she heard it, she insisted on recording a version. The result is magnificent, and a fitting tribute to Spanish Harlem’s favourite daughter.
See you next Saturday, rockers.